A PRESCRIPTION FOR THE DISEASES OF THE CARNAL SELF
This consists of Five Paragraphs which
contain prescriptions for truth to which the rebellious, and
arrogant carnal self has to yield.
Since things exist and have been made with skill, then a Supreme
Maker must exist. If the existence of everything is ascribed
to One Being only, then the creation of everything is as easy
as the creation of one thing alone, which would not be the
case if we imagine other creators. When we confess the creation
of the earth and the heavens to be the work of a sole Creator,
we cannot help concluding that a Wise and Skilful Creator
would not allow disorder to arise by allowing others to administer
living beings. He would not reduce to absurdity His Divine
purpose in causing the existence of all creation by allowing
that power to any other than Himself, and He would not allow
creation to worship and be thankful to someone else.
O my haughty carnal soul! You are like a grape vine. Someone
else, not yourself, has made you wear bunches of grapes like
a garment, do not be boastful.
O arrogant carnal soul! Do not be proud of your services to
God’s religion. As has been stated in a Prophetic tradition,
Surely God may also strengthen this religion by means of a
dissolute man. You are not pure, so you should regard yourself
as that dissolute man. Purge yourself of self-admiration and
pride by considering your service and worship as thanksgiving
for God’s past favors to you, and a duty required by your
humanity, and a consequence of your being God’s work of art.
If you desire to acquire knowledge of the truth and true wisdom,
try to attain the knowledge of God and know that the realities
of creation consist in the rays of the Divine Name of Truth
and the manifestations of His Names and Attributes. The reality
of each human being, and of every existence, whether material
or spiritual, substantial or accidental, originates in the
light of one of His Names.
O my carnal soul, if you are attached to this temporary worldly
life, and you want to flee from death, know that life is the
moment of ‘now’, while you are living. All preceding time,
together with the things which existed therein, have all passed
away, and future time together with what is to come is non-existent.
This means that your material life upon which you rely is
of momentary duration, moreover, some scholars who know the
truth say it has the term of an instant only. Some saints
have concluded in consequence that the world does not exist
by itself at all. Now, this is the reality, so abandon the
materialistic life and try to live on a spiritual level, and
discover how complete life can be.
Although the past and
the future are dead for you, they are living for the people
of sainthood who lead their life in the realm of the spirit.
Now that this is the true reality, shed tears with all your
heart, O my carnal soul, and cry out in pain:
I am mortal but I
do not want the mortal.
I am impotent so I do not desire the impotent.
I surrendered my spirit to the All-Merciful One, so I desire
no one else.
I want someone who will remain my friend forever.
I am but an insignificant particle, but I desire an Everlasting
I am nothing in essence but I wish for the whole of creation.
INSTRUCTION TO PUT THE CARNAL SELF IN ITS PLACE
In the Name of
God the Merciful the Compassionate.
Do not reckon those who rejoice in what they have brought
and love to be praised for what they have not done—do not
reckon them secure from chastisement; rather, there is a
painful chastisement for them. (3:188)
O foolish soul delighted
with self-pride, enamored of fame, fond of being praised,
and peerless in egotism!
If it is a just claim
that its tiny seed is the agent of a fig tree with all its
fruits, and that it is the dry branch of the vine which produces
tens of bunches of grapes hanging from it, and that those
who benefit from them should respect and praise the branch
and the seed, then you might have the right to be proud and
conceited about the gifts—abilities, the physical features,
etc.—which were given to you. Whereas in fact you deserve
to be constantly chided because you are not like the seed
and the branch: Since you have the faculty of will, you reduce
the value of those gifts through your pride; through your
conceit, you damage them; through your ingratitude, you nullify
them; and in appropriating them to yourself, you usurp them.
Your duty is not to
be self-proud, but to be thankful to God. What is fit for
you is not to seek fame but humility, and to feel shame (for
your deficiencies). Your right is not praise but repentance,
and to seek forgiveness (for your faults). Your perfection
lies not in self-centeredness, but in attributing every good
You soul in my body,
you resemble ‘nature’ in the outer world. Both of you were
created to receive good and be the thing to which evil is
referred. That is, you are not the agent and the origin, rather,
you are the recipient, the means, and the ground or the scene.
You can, O my soul, be effective only in that you cause an
evil because you do not accept the good coming from the Absolute
Good. You and the ‘natural causes’ were created as veils,
so that things that are apparently ugly, the beauty of which
is not visible, should be attributed to you, and you should
be the means of the Most Holy Divine Essence being acknowledged
free of defect. You, my carnal soul, have taken an attitude
completely contrary to your duty of creation. Although, out
of your incompetence you have changed good into evil, you
act as though you were a partner to your Creator. That means
one who adores himself and one who adores nature is extremely
foolish and a great wrongdoer.
Do not say: ‘I am an
object of Divine manifestations. One who receives and reflects
Divine beauty becomes beautiful.’ For, since that beauty has
not taken on a perpetual form in you, you may be an object
reflecting it only for a short time.
Also, do not say: ‘Among
people I was chosen. All these results, all the works I have
produced are shown through me. I have some merit that God
chose me to manifest some of His Names through.’ No! God forbid!
God has caused you to produce those works because you are
more bankrupt and more needy of them than everyone else and
more afflicted with intellectual and spiritual shortcomings.
WEEPING HEART AT DAYBREAK
The breeze of Divine
manifestations blows at daybreak;
Wake up, O my eyes, at daybreeak!
Seek help from the Court of God..
Dawn is the time when the sinful seek forgiveness.
Awake, O my heart, at daybreak,
Repent and seek forgiveness from the Court of God!
Daybreak is a kind
of resurrection when every being is awake and busy with the
glorification of God. When will you, O my foolish soul, awake
from the sleep of heedlessness? Life is a limited period and
every living being is on a journey to the grave. Perform the
prescribed prayer and supplicate to Him like a plaintive flute,
O Lord! I am repentant
and ashamed of my innumerable sins. I am wretched and abased
and tearful and restless with life. I am exiled and lonely,
weak and impotent, old and ill, and I have no choices at
all. I beg for Your Mercy and forgiveness, and I cry for
help from Your Court, O God!
WATCHFUL OVER ONE’S OWN DEFECTS
When God wills
a people well, He makes them watchful of their defects.
Also, the Wise Qur’an
narrates the Prophet Joseph to have said:
I claim not that
my soul is always innocent; surely the soul of man incites
to evil. (12:53)
One who is self-conceited
and self-confident is unfortunate, while the one who sees
his defects is fortunate. That being so, you are among the
fortunate. But it sometimes happens that, though the evil-commanding
soul is refined and transformed into the ‘self-accusing soul’
or even ‘the soul at rest’, it moves its line of attack to
the nerves so that man cannot be free of anger and irritation
until his death. There have lived many pure and saintly people
who, though their souls were at rest, complained of the temptations
of their selfhood and wailed over spiritual ailments, although
their hearts were quite illuminated and pure. What they actually
complained of is not having an evil-commanding self, but the
transference of those evil commands to the nerves: the spiritual
ailments which they bewailed were only imaginary.
I hope, my dear brother,
that it is not your evil-commanding self or spiritual diseases
which afflict you, but that you are suffering, rather, from
nerves, so that you may go on struggling in order to go on
making spiritual progress.
1. Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’,
STATION IN THE SPIRITUAL JOURNEYING
In His Name, glory
be to Him.
There is nothing that does not glorify Him with praise.
Imam Rabbani, inspired
leader and great murshid of the Nakshbandi way, says in his
Letters: “I would prefer to make a single matter of faith
known in plain terms than attain thousands of spiritual pleasures
and ecstasies, and work miracles.”
He also says: “The final station in all kinds of the spiritual
journeying is to attain the full perception of the truths
kinds of sainthood
Again, he says: “There
are three kinds of sainthood. The first is the kind known
to everybody, which is the minor one. The second is of medium
degree. The third and greatest one is the major sainthood,
which can be attained through direct succession to the Prophetic
message, paving the way to the truth without entering the
‘intermediate realm’ of spiritual orders.”
He also says: “A person
can progress in the Nakshbandi way by having a firm belief
in the pillars of faith and performing the religious duties.
Neglect of or deficiency in either makes this way impossible
This means that the
Nakshbandi way encompasses three kinds of mission.
- The first and greatest
consists in directly serving the truths of belief without
any mediating influences. Imam Rabbani entered into such
service especially in the closing years of his life.
- The second is to
try one’s hardest to perform and promote the obligatory
religious duties and the Sunna of the Prophet, upon him
be peace and the blessings of God, by following a spiritual
- The third kind of
the Nakshbandi mission is that one follows the way in order
to be purified of the spiritual diseases.
The first of these missions
is obligatory, the second necessary, and the third is supererogatory.
That being so, if men
of such rank as ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Jilani, Shah Nakshband and
Imam Rabbani, may God be pleased with them all, were living
in this age when the fundamentals of belief have been shaken
in minds and hearts and people go astray under the influence
of materialistic and positivistic trends, they would certainly
be exerting themselves in preaching and defending the truths
of belief and the fundamentals of the Islamic creed, since
one cannot otherwise attain eternal happiness. Any neglect
in them will result in eternal torment. It is impossible for
one to go to Paradise without belief but there are many who
deserve Paradise without following an order. Following an
order has the same use and importance for man as any fruits
do whereas the truths of faith are the food essential to one’s
spiritual life. One cannot live without ‘bread’ while it is
possible to subsist without fruit.
I just remembered the
dictum about the principles of the Nakshbandi way:
In the way of the Nakshbandi, it is necessary to renounce
- the world,
- the Hereafter,
- ‘becoming,’ or claiming
that one has “become” a saintly one,
- and the idea of ‘renunciation,’
that is, recalling that one has renounced what he has renounced..
Remembering that brought
another dictum to mind: In the pure Qur’anic way of serving
belief and the Qur’an, depending on one's perception of his
nothingness, four things are necessary:
- perception and admission
of one’s absolute poverty vis-à-vis the Divine riches,
- of absolute helplessness
vis-à-vis the Divine power,
- and absolute gratitude
- and absolute enthusiasm
in His way.
CAN ONE THANK GOD FOR HIS BEING THE LORD?
He asked: ‘Am I not
(your Lord)?’ and you responded: ‘Yes!’
How can one thank Him for that ‘yes’? By suffering misfortunes!
What is the mystery of that 'yes'? It is that you say:
‘I am a slave in chains in the abode of poverty and perishing.’
What has he found who
has lost God?
And what has he lost who has found God?
Good tidings await
those who are seen (by others) as strange and outlandish
(because of their Islamic beliefs)!
Do you know what ‘sama’
(whirling in ecstasy) is?
It is to enjoy permanence in absolute annihilation of the
“THE BEST OF THE YOUNG AMONG YOU ARE THOSE LIKE THE OLD AMONG
YOU, AND THE WORST OF THE OLD AMONG YOU ARE THOSE LIKE THE
YOUNG AMONG YOU,” A PROPHETIC SAYING? IF SO, WHAT IS MEANT
I have also heard it
referred to as a prophetic saying. What is meant by it is
this: The best of the young is he who, like an old man, thinks
of death and, without being captivated by fancies of youth,
strives for his next life. As for the worst of the old, he
is that old man who, trying to imitate the young in worldly
aspirations in heedlessness of Divine commandments, obeys,
like a youth, the temptations of his carnal self.
The correct form of
the second part of your framed inscription is as follows –
I hung it on the wall as a warning-notice and I look at it
every morning and evening to take a lesson:
- If you want a friend,
God is sufficient. Indeed, if He is a friend to you, so
- If you want companions,
the Qur’an is sufficient. You may imagine yourself to be
in the company of the Prophets and angels mentioned in the
Qur’an, study their experiences and are intimate with them.
- If you want wealth,
contentment is sufficient. Indeed, the one with contentment
becomes thrifty, and the one who is thrifty gets blessed
abundance in his wealth.
- If you want to feel
enmity, your evil-commanding self is sufficient as an enemy.
One who is self-conceited obtains grieves but one who is
not haughty obtains care and peace.
- If you want counsel,
death is sufficient. The one who thinks of death, gets rid
of love of the world and strives for his next life.
I am adding to your
seven, an eighth, which is as follows:
A few days ago, a memorizer
of the Qur’an recited a certain portion of the Sura Yusuf,
down to the verse, Make me die a Muslim (submissive unto
You), and join me with the righteous. (12:101)
Suddenly a subtle point
occurred to me: Everything related to the Qur’an and faith
is, no matter how insignificant it may seem, in fact, of great
significance. Anything that contributes to eternal happiness
is not insignificant, so, we should not regard it as unworthy
This is the finest,
most subtle point of the finest Qur’anic story: The verse,
Make me die a Muslim (submissive unto You), and join me with
the righteous, which marks the end of the story of Yusuf,
upon him be peace, – the finest story in the Qur’an – is expressive
of a glad tiding in a vivid and miraculous fashion. It is
The pleasure received
from a joyful happy story results in a deep sorrow because
of the final news of separation or death. This is really so,
or arouses more sorrow, when we get the news of separation
or death at a time when the character of the story has just
found ease and happiness. However, the verse quoted above,
even if it contemplates the death of the Prophet Yusuf (Joseph)
at the happiest point of his life when he became the Aziz
(grand-vizier or chancellor) of Egypt and re-united with his
parents and brothers, it gives it in a different way and declares:
In order to be the object of a far greater happiness, the
Prophet Yusuf prayed God for his death and, through death,
he received that happiness. This means that a more attractive
and pleasure-giving bliss than the greatest happiness of the
world is awaiting us at the other side of the grave. It is
because of this that a truth-seeing person like the Prophet
Yusuf, in order to find that bliss, asked for death, which
is apparently very painful, when he was enjoying the greatest
happiness of the world.
Look, then, at the eloquent
way the Wise Qur’an reports to us the end of the story of
the Prophet Yusuf, and see how it adds, instead of giving
pain and regret, to the joy and happiness of the listener.
Further, it guides us to the fact that we should strive for
the other side of the grave, where are found real happiness
and pleasure. It also demonstrates the exalted truthfulness
of the Prophet Yusuf and announces that even the most joyful
and brightest condition of the worldly life cannot captivate
him, rather it leads him to ask for death and the other life.